8 Easy Tips To Prepare For The Sale Of Your Home

The thought of all the work involved in preparing your home for sale and getting ready to move could easily bring about a headache and prompt all kinds of creative ideas for things you'd suddenly rather do - trust me, I get it.  But, after you've fully detailed the car and your dog is exhausted since you extended your evening strolls to 15km, you'll want to put together a simple home preparation plan to make the task of actually readying your home a bit easier.  It's best to start planning at least 6 weeks prior to listing your home with actual efforts to prepare your home beginning at least 4 weeks prior.  Of course, if you're planning any degree of renovation, this timeline should be adjusted accordingly. 

While there are many things you'll do to prepare for the sale of your home, here are 8 simple tips you may not have thought about, but should likely give some consideration to:

1. Stay Out Of The Penalty Box - You don't want to sit down with your lawyer on closing day to review the Statement of Adjustments and find out then that you're paying a huge unexpected mortgage penalty.  Armed with this knowledge in advance, you may decide to adjust the timeline for selling your home.

2. Light It Up - You not only want to ensure a bright, cheery, and well-lit environment for prospective buyers, but you want to avoid giving the impression that you've neglected home maintenance.  Even simple things like burnt out lights can trigger questions about maintenance issues in the minds of buyers.  While changing light bulbs (interior and exterior), be sure to clean out the dead flies and other bugs from the light fixtures.

3. Dress To Impress - You might have thought I'd mention home staging here, which can be quite valuable and worthwhile, but think about the part of your home buyers will likely see first - the front entrance to your home.  While the prospective buyer's Realtor is fetching the key from the lockbox, the buyer will be taking a few moments to size up the house before they get inside.  These first impressions are critical so you'll want to spend a little time sprucing up the entrance.  Some examples include:

  • Paint the front door.  A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, but don't go too crazy with the colour choice as you'll want to create an inviting impression that resonates with as many buyers as possible.  It's a good idea to also paint the trim around the front door while you're at it.
  • Apply fresh caulking around the doorframe.  This quick fix will eliminate unsightly dried out/cracked caulking and help demonstrate that your home is well-maintained.
  • Replace doorknobs, locks, and accessories such as the doorbell, house numbers, and mailbox if broken, rusted, or discoloured.  Each of these items can be quickly and inexpensively replaced.
  • Keep the front entrance free of flyers, newspapers, and any other garbage.

4. Paint It Black - No, not the walls of your home.  But, if you have an asphalt driveway, the general rule of thumb is to reseal it every 2-3 years to help prolong its life.  While you may not care much about the driveway long after you move out, the look of a freshly sealed driveway can dramatically - and inexpensively - improve the curb appeal of your home.

5. Weed It And Reap - The better your house looks, the more rewards you'll reap and the gardens factor into this equation too.  The good news is that you don't need to be a gardener.  Simply pluck any offending weeds, buy a few bags of mulch (I think black looks rich, but it comes in other shades), and spread the mulch around your gardens.  Then add a few potted flowers strategically placed at the edges of walkways, porches, and decks and your home will make a great first impression without breaking the bank.  Oh, and don't forget to cut the grass prior to any showings or open houses.

6. Pack It Up, Pack It In - Collecting too much stuff might be a sin.  But, this too can be solved.  The thing to remember here is that you're moving and you have to pack anyway.  If you start packing up early to declutter and create a spacious and inviting environment, you'll need somewhere to put all your stuff.  Most people simply stuff the garage, basement, and closets full of boxes and unused items.  Sure, the rest of the house has been decluttered, but this strategy can give the impression that your home lacks storage.  To alleviate this situation, my recommendation is that you rent a storage unit for items you'd like to keep and move out anything not necessary while your home is listed for sale.  A couple months' rent on a storage unit is inexpensive and this will also help you stay organized through a hectic time.  For items you no longer care for, you might try having a garage sale or selling them on Kijiji or a local Facebook buy/sell group.  Another option is to donate items to a local charity within your community.  And, if the items are house-related products, you could donate them to your local Habitat For Humanity ReStore.

7. Smile For The Camera - I always use professional photography on my listings as it makes a huge difference in the quality of a listing, but not all Realtors do.  To help ensure your home is photogenic for its glamour shots, schedule the photo shoot for after you've moved unnecessary items to your storage unit or otherwise disposed of them.  By shedding these extra pounds, your home will look its best for the camera.  It should go without saying, but a thorough cleaning is also important - don't forget to dust the baseboards, clean the windows, and keep kitchen cupboards and drawers organized.  And, be sure to put away your toothbrushes and dirty laundry before both photography and any showings.

8. Air It Out - We all get used to the scent of our homes, often to the point where we don't even notice how it smells.  Prospective buyers, though, will notice any less than appealing odours immediately.  Offending odours could come from pets, sports equipment, food, and more.  To avoid having buyers turn their noses up at your house, I recommend regularly opening all the windows in your home to air it out, routinely use the exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms, put away any sports equipment, frequently change pet litter boxes, and try avoid cooking highly aromatic foods in the days prior to any showings or open houses.  Air fresheners and scented candles can be especially helpful, but don't use any with a strong scent.  I'd suggest using a light and fresh-scented product such as Febreeze and spraying it in every room just prior to any showings or open houses. 

Now that your home is ready for sale, you can roll out the red carpet so to speak - you and your home are ready to welcome buyers!  Just make sure the carpet had time to dry if you brought in a carpet cleaner.

As a real estate professional specializing in assisting buyers, sellers, and investors achieve their real estate goals, I strive to deliver value by providing insightful, reliable service second to none while also ensuring you get the best sale or purchase price possible.  For any questions about this blog topic, or any other real estate topic, feel free to contact me at 905-630-0778, john.merrill@century21.ca, or on Facebook at @JohnMerrillRealEstate.

John Merrill

John Merrill

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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